Science for sustainability: translating knowledge into action

Our progression toward sustainable development is confronting us with unprecedented challenges. The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), a center for transdisciplinary and transformative research and thought, believes these challenges are too complex to be resolved with strategies we already know. Read more


The kick-off of the Potsdam Summer School on the “Arctic in the Anthropocene” set the tone for two weeks of jointly exploring policy and science questions in a multidisciplinary way. Talks by … Read more
Much of the water in the rivers of Kyrgyzstan comes from melting snow and glaciers in the Pamir and Tian Shan Mountains. Since the 1970s, the ice masses there have been shrinking at a much faster … Read more
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 840 million people live in chronic poverty across the globe. Many of them are small farmers. In recent years their … Read more
He is passionate about eco-friendly driving: Professor Ching Chuen Chan, a Senior Fellow of the IASS, was awarded the 2014 Prince Philip Medal for his role in advancing the field of electric … Read more
A Russian flag lies 4 261 metres beneath the ice on the Arctic seabed. It was planted there by a submersible in August 2007. While this may have been a merely symbolic act, it nevertheless shows … Read more
Rising temperatures, melting sea ice, new sea routes, mining of previously unexploited resources – the Arctic is currently experiencing rapid change with grave consequences. The huge challenges … Read more

Research Clusters

Global Contract for Sustainability (GCS)

Director: Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer - GCS focuses on the societal and political transformations that must take place if we are to achieve greater sustainability. It pursues three priorities - Sustainability governance, Transformation processes, Cultural diversity and sustainable economic activity.

Earth, Energy and Environment - E³

Director: Prof. Dr. Carlo Rubbia - E³ focuses on a secure, environmentally-friendly energy supply. It investigates the generation of affordable and available renewable energies, super-conducting electric lines for long-distance energy transport from production to consumption, and technologies for progressive decarbonization and closing the carbon cycle, while assuming CO₂ to be an asset and resource.

Sustainable Interactions with the Atmosphere (SIWA)

Director: Prof. Dr. Mark Lawrence - SIWA explores how to reduce human influences on the atmosphere, such as air pollution and global warming, and their consequences for human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Enquiry focuses on short-lived climate-warming pollutants and the implications and risks of climate engineering.